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New Chapter, No Regrets: Jessica Pegula's Ready For A Fresh Start
3 Min Read · March 7, 2024

For five productive years, Jessica Pegula and longtime coach David Witt were a tandem to be reckoned with. The Buffalo, New York native rocketed up the rankings with Witt at the helm, rising from a peak ranking well outside the Top 50 to become a perennial Top 10 player and a regular participant in the business end at Grand Slams. 


But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end…

In 2024, solidly entrenched in the Top 5 and operating as one of the elite talents in the women’s game, Pegula went for a surprising shake-up. She parted ways with Witt, who also acted as Venus Williams’ coach from 2007 to 2018, after this year’s Australian Open and explained her decision at BNP Paribas Open Media Day on Wednesday. 

Having recently turned 30 (on February 24), Pegula believes it is time to let change be a catalyst.

“It definitely does [feel like a new beginning],” she said of the parting of ways, which was confirmed in early February. “David and I obviously had a lot of success and what we were able to accomplish together was pretty amazing but I think having started with him when I was maybe 25, and then being 30 this year, I think I’m just in a much different place – a different ranking, a different place personally and career-wise.” 

Still wanting to tick the next level in her already world-class career, Pegula confessed that she was motivated by a fear of regret. 

“I just felt like I needed to take some chances,” she said. “I’m 30 – not that being 30 is the end – and I think I just didn’t want to look back and be like ‘maybe I should have tried someone else, or tried something different.’”

Jessica Pegula has welcomed in her 30th birthday with a coaching change as she looks to kick start her 2024 season.

Pegula, who will face either Anna Blinkova or Karolina Pliskova in the second round on Saturday, says she felt a strong desire to get out of her comfort zone. 

For the moment, she is working with a duo coaching tandem of former doubles stalwart Mark Knowles and Mark Merklein, a former ATP No. 160 who also previously coached alongside Bryan Shelton (father of Ben Shelton) at the University of Florida. 

But no official arrangement has been announced. 

“Obviously I’d been successful, it’s not like I’d been losing and I needed to change something,” she said. “More or less, it was just me wanting to make a change and I felt like it came pretty naturally. It wasn’t anything bad, it was just more me starting a little bit of a new chapter in my career. 

“I think it was just more to keep pushing myself, and I didn’t want to feel too comfortable. I kind of wanted to change things up and I think being uncomfortable makes you learn new things and pushes you in new directions and can be really helpful.”

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